Question No. 4 – Reference to the Context – Poem 3
The lines given for explanation are an extract from Samson Agonistes written by John Milton.
About the Poet
John Milton is regarded as one of the most famous poets of English Literature. His masterpiece Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes earned him fame and honour. His individual style has a touch of sublimity and majesty which is quite appropriate to his noble and powerful ideas.
About the Poem
Samson Agonistes is an adaptation of the Greek drama form in blank verse, which recounts the tragedy of Samson in his blindness beset by enemies. This hero performed the decisive role in crushing the philistines who were the deadly enemies of his race. Samson, too got killed in that disaster but his heroic act saved his tribesman from the deadly enemy. By virtue of his glorious deed, his named earned eternity. It is rightly said:
“Those who die for their nation live for ever.”
He patient, but undaunted, where they led him———None daring to appear antagonist.
The poet tells us in these lines how Samson was brought in the assembly hall as the enemy had blinded him. A guide led him to the hall. He walked patiently but heartlessly to the place where the guide led him. Then he was called upon to show the feats of skill. He performed could be done by a blind man. He heaved, pulled, drew and broke things with great strength and none have the courage to find faults with him. He performed everything in such a wonderful way that every body praised him for his unbelievable strength. His demonstrations were simply unbelievable. Nobody dared to appear as his challenger in similar feats of strength.
At length for intermission sake they led him ———-That to the arched roof gave main support
Here we are told how Samson reached near the big pillars. At last the show was over and the interval was announced. Samson was led by his guide to the pillars in order to give him some recess. Now as the people who stood near him heard Samson requested his guide to let him stand against the strong pillars with the both his hands on them. He told his guide that he wanted to do so simply because he wanted to have some rest. These pillars give a support to the arched roof where the nobility of Philistine was sitting.
He unsuspicious led him; which when Samson———–Or some great matter in his mind revolved
In these lines we are told that the guide did not feel that there was anything wrong in. So, the guide accepted his request and let him rest against the pillars. Now Samson felt the pillars in his arms for Philistines had blinded him. Then he stood silent for some time, with his head bowed and his eyes fixed on the ground. He behaved as if he was going to offer his prayer, or wanted to reach a final decision on some matter on some matter of great importance. It appeared as if some important matter was revolving in his mind for he is standing seriously with his head bowed and eyes on the ground.
At last, with head erect thus cried aloud——–As with amaze shall strike all who behold.’
The poet tells us in these lines how Samson, addressed the people gathered there. He raised his head and in a loud voice he told them that till now he had obeyed them most obediently, showed some feats of strength and had never disobeyed their commands. Now he said, he wanted to show them some feats of strength of his own accord. These things would amaze all the holder and every body would be amazed who saw it. Actually Samson wanted to take them unawares. Therefore, he told them in a friendly way that he was going to show them some more wonderful feats of strength.
This uttered, straining all his nerves, he bowed ——– Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
In these lines we are told how Samson pulled down the pillars upon the heads of his enemies. Samson applied his force to the pillars, which trembled just as mountains do against the fury of winds and water. He shook them in opposite directions, till the roof came down with a thundering noise. Thus, all those lords and captains who sat under the roof were crushed to death. Of course Samson too died, but in this way he took a revenge on his enemies. The two heavy pillars who gave support to the whole building were shaken with great force by Samson and after their motion of to and fro they came down. Samson succeeded in achieving his goal i.e to crush his enemies for it he use his full strength to pull the pillars down on the heads of his enemies. He shook the pillars again and again till they came down.
Lords, ladies, captains, councellors or priests ——— Pulled down the same destruction on himself.
The poet tells us in these lines that among the people who were crushed to death under the roof were lords, ladies, councellors and priests of the country. The people had assembled there from far and near to celebrate the feast. As Samson too was among them, he also met the same fate and was crushed to death. But, by sacrificing his own life, he killed the best people of the enemy nation. The people who killed were choicest nobility not only of this one city but also of all the Philistinian cities.